ottawa blues festival

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Basking in the blues

on July 9, 2006 No comments


Patrick Langston – The Ottawa Citizen

site_map_2006Ottawa Blues Festival delivers a full musical feast — from blues-rock to pop to psyche-funk

Bookended by contrasts, with everything from musical soup to nuts in between, and with the weatherman on side, the Cisco Systems Bluesfest sailed into its first full day of music yesterday.

The Asylum Street Spankers of Austin, Texas opened yesterday’s outdoor bill with an all-acoustic mid-day show on the

mbna Stage. They specialize in acoustic blues and jazz circa 1920s and ’30s.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Bonnie Raitt, queen of contemporary electric blues and outspoken political and environmental activist, closed out the night as the main stage headliner.

Her red hair a brilliant flame of colour in the spotlights, Raitt opened with the big, funky Unnecessarily Mercenary from last year’s Souls Alike, jumped into the older Thing Called Love and rolled into God Was in the Water, again from the new album and which she dedicated to the still-displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Losing no time in taking a stand, Raitt then said, “I salute this festival for running on bio-diesel (the fuel source for Bluesfest’s generators this year). Just like my bus. Get us the hell out of the Middle East!”

All this, of course, went down like candy with Raitt’s audience.

Cooled by a breeze on a perfect summer’s evening, they cheered her every note and word.

Folks in the 500 reserved seats (new this year and $50 a pop) immediately in front of the stage had the best spot to enjoy Raitt and her band, but no matter where you were in last night’s packed Festival Plaza, Raitt, who Bluesfest has been trying to book for years, sounded terrific.

Between Raitt and the noon hour Asylum Street Spankers, the music ranged from blues-rock to pop to psyche-funk.

And with something for everyone, Bluesfest, which yesterday drew an estimated 20,000-plus music fans, shows no signs of losing its status as the world’s second largest blues festival, outpaced only by Chicago.

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